Police unit investigating Netanyahu gets new commander
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Police unit investigating Netanyahu gets new commander

Yigal Ben-Shalom takes over at Lahav 443 from Roni Rittman, who resigned in connection with sexual harassment allegations

The new head of the Israel Police Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, Yigal Ben-Shalom, flanked by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (left) and police chief Roni Alsheich, March 15, 2018. (Police spokesman's office)
The new head of the Israel Police Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, Yigal Ben-Shalom, flanked by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (left) and police chief Roni Alsheich, March 15, 2018. (Police spokesman's office)

Yigal Ben-Shalom was appointed Thursday as the new head of the Israel Police Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, police said.

Ben-Shalom, 53, will replace Roni Rittman, who resigned in January in connection with sexual harassment allegations.

Ben-Shalom currently serves as deputy head of Lahav 433 and head of the unit’s international crime investigations.

Married with two children, he has a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies and a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and political science. He is a graduate of the National Security College.

Ben-Shalom’s appointment, which was approved by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on the recommendation of Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, comes in the midst of multiple corruption investigations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara.

Police have come under repeated attack by Netanyahu, most recently a week ago, when he accused them of engaging in a conspiracy to bring him down that included encouraging false testimony and illegally pressuring witnesses.

Rittman was accused of two instances of sexual harassment in 2011, including kissing a female subordinate against her will. He denied the allegations and said that a senior officer in the Israel Police’s intelligence unit was trying to frame him. In 2015, during the course of the investigation, Rittman was put on mandatory leave.

Outgoing head of the Lahav 433 police anti-corruption unit, Roni Rittman, arrives at the Police Investigation Department, Jerusalem, December, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

No indictment was ever filed against Rittman due to “evidentiary issues,” and he was cleared of all wrongdoing.

Following a brief suspension, Alsheich later that year appointed him head of Lahav 433, after which one complainant petitioned the High Court of Justice saying Rittman was not fit to serve in such a senior position in light of the allegations against him.

In a November 2017 ruling, three High Court justices stopped short of calling for Rittman to be fired, but unanimously ruled that Alsheich’s decision to reinstate him in 2015 “did not give proper and reasonable weight to the existing evidence regarding the officer’s complaint [against Rittman]” and “could not stand.” He resigned two months later.

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